Monday, 31 December 2012

Xmas 2012

Saturday the 22nd, with the car choked with clothing, fridges and xmas pressies we headed off for Nannup to be with family with the ulti in tow. As usual, I was a good couple of hours late leaving than I had planned. This may have been a good thing as the freeway traffic was unreasonably light. whenever I head this way these days, I veer off at Capel and take some forestry tracks to come out about 10Km's from Nannup. Its far flatter than the Vasse highway and there's something about hurtling down a dirt road in the middle of a forest that makes me want do it.

On the road from Capel, I stopped at two caches. Both were easy finds. I left my Avon NP geo behind at one and collected another Trackable (TB) at another. Then it was onto the forestry dirt roads to Cundinup.

I know some property owners in Cundinup. Not far from there place is an old school. I always seem to be pushed for time and never stop in for a look. I have been following a cache here for a good couple of years and this trip I decided I wasn't going past without a look. I picked up the cache easy enough and left my other Avon TB behind. The recorded history of the teachers and their students was fascinating. I wasn't expecting to see that.

From there it was off to Nannup. Sunday came and I did some reconnaissance of a couple of local waterholes for room to park the ulti over night. The main one was full but there was sufficient room in the secondary one. So back to Nannup to pick up the trailer and we over nighted at Worker's Pool.

A bit of a swim in the pool kept the temperatures in check. Just before bed, the possum's put on a show for us. Once they started licking the oil drain on the bbq, I decided to lock everything down for the night. The possums then went on their merry way.


Bacon and eggs for breaky, then back to Nannup to help prepare for xmas day. Trying for a couple of micro caches proved to be my downfall. I attempted 4 over a couple of days and couldn't find 4. Not good odds there. But it was bloody hot and my enthusiasm was waning somewhat. I'll return when a bit cooler.

Picking the right tree for xmas in a forest full of pines was hard work.....Not!

Anyway the kids had a ball decorating the newly placed tree

and the final product:

That night, we found K had a tick from our trip to the Avon a week earlier. Off to the local hospital and a new method of removal involving lasooing the beast with some surgical twine proved to be an effective remedy. Thanks to the Nurses at Nannup local for phoning PMH for advice and the successful removal.

Xmas day came and went. Usual story, it was bloody hot, there was too many people, I ate far, far too much (don't know how it all fit in really) and by the end of the day I was glad it was over for another year.

But playing lego Santa left Kaitlyn was a highlight

Boxing day came and I discovered I had 3 ticks. Off to the local once again, for me this time.

The remainder of boxing day was much like xmas. Way too much food and people. Again, it was bloody hot. I decided to check some Blackwood river campsites out in the afternoon as I planned to spend the next 3 days camped up in the ulti. The Brother in law couldn't decide on coming with us or having a snooze. He chose the latter and lucked out cause I found a couple of pearlers. They were gps'd but wont be shared with him..... I was a bit concerned as it was very hot (40+ degree's) and the river wasn't as nice here as I hoped. I was concerned about keeping K entertained in the deep bush, in high heat with a lack of suitable swimming spots to keep her cool. So I ventured to Sues bridge. We got here about 5pm and whilst there were quite a few people, there were 2 spots suitable for the ulti.

I decided to return via Denny Road to see how busy the bush camps there were. As I thought, you couldn't stick a pin between the campers at all the spots we looked at. So back to Nannup for yet more food and we decided we would go back to our favourite hot weather camp at Sue's in the morning.

Again, a late 1130 departure meant we got to Sues around midday. I was chatting with the Ranger, he took one look at the trailer and said...good luck, but have a drive around. I asked if site 20 and 23 were still available as they were last night at 5pm. He told me they were now taken....bugger. So I did a drive round and decided I could squeeze into site 22. Back to the Ranger I was discussing getting into 22 and bugger me (I dont think you'll ever here a DEC Ranger say this)......he said he can remove some copper logs for me at 22 if I cant get in.

I was floored. A DEC officer removing copper logs...the best description of an oxymoron if one ever existed. I declined his kind offer and said "I'll be right mate". I couldn't bear the thought of DEC removing a log.

So with the camper parked up in the blazing hot sun, I continued with the set up whilst the other half took K to the river. Once nearly sorted, I headed down river for a swim myself as it was just too bloody hot. But the camper fit nicely into the small space. The ulti's stairs fitting neatly over the (offered to be removed) logs

A hot afternoon was quenched by the mighty Blackwood. The evening was uneventful as those evil Sue's Bridge possums decided to bug someone else for a change.

The next day dawned hot again. Some breakfast and the morning spent relaxing in the river and it was lunch. As it was so hot, I decided the day would be hard to spend in camp, so I promised  K an ice cream - At Donnelly Mill (a 200Km round trip in a/c comfort!). There was an ulterior motive though....I wanted another cache and to check some more remote Blackwood sites. Leaving around noon, I followed some forestry tracks and stumbled across the most amazing campsite. There was a family down there having a swim, so I made a conscious effort to make myself known. As it was, I frightened the bejeesus out of their son when I first appeared out of the scrub. We had a chat for a bit and they asked me not to share the site to all and sundry. The river access was brilliant, the Dad had seen marron in the pool and there was freshwater mussels on the riverbed

Whilst there I broke my cache drought and dropped of the last tb in my inventory. Its a pity it was pretty tight to get in there, it would be just awesome to have the ulti there. Unfortunately, I think some of the track access between the trees wouldn't allow me to get it in.

So I followed the ever narrowing track back to the highway. From there I made my way to Green's Island to follow the back tracks to Donnelly. The big male Roo at Donnelly decided he wanted to be in the shop with the A/C rather than out in the heat. That was a sight, wished I grabbed a pic. Consuming our ice cream, storm clouds and thunder was brewing. And it was geting late now, about 4pm, so we made a dash for camp. In the Donnelly forest, some light rain fell. An hour later and we were back at camp for yet another swim.

That evening was pretty amazing. Thunder and lightning all night long but no rain. Also the evil possums left me alone again. Morning dawned, and after breakfast, we slowly packed up. Once the interior was done and awnings were down, Mum took K back to the river whilst I finished the pack up. The Ranger came along for a chat (and camp fee's) and I gave him the guided ulti tour.

On the road by midday, it was another hot day. 40 Degree's showing on the car thermometer most the way home. We made the bushfire at Wellard/Kwinana before the freeway was closed which was a bonus. Home by about 3pm, it was time to wash the car and ulti, then start the unpacking process. Sunday I sorted out cleaning the interior of the ulti, emptying the fridges and putting all the camp stuff away. Just in time to start work on Monday....New years eve.

So my holidays for this xmas are now at a close. 3 weeks gone just like that and whilst it was dam hot, I wouldn't change a thing.

Thursday, 20 December 2012

Avon Valley National Park, December 2102

As I was on holiday's, the little one had finished school and the other half was still at work, I had a couple of days to fill in. What better opportunity than to get the ulti out for an overnighter.

On the weekend prior, I went for a drive there for reconnaissance. Firstly, to check if the gate was open (which it was) and secondly to check if the steep entrance track would be suitable for haulin the ulti.

I don't think getting down will be a problem (if you miss the ruts from water degregation), but coming up may cause an issue???? only one way to find out I guess.

The site down the bottom was quite large and open. A drop dunny and plenty of picnic tables to be had. Best of all, no people around...Yeah!

Due to unseasonal rainfall, the water levels in the river were exceptionally high

And so it was a goer. Wednesday would be the day for the overnighter. I'll work out how to haul the Ulti back up the hill on Thursday.

Arriving about lunchtime, the journey down the hill wasn't so bad. Using low range for enhanced engine braking was a better move than overheating the brakes on both the Paj and the Ulti. I missed the one big washout with the trailer, so that made me happy. At the bottom, I positioned the trailer and roughly set up the camper so that we could get lunch underway. Kaitlyn must have had a hard year at school because she polished off 3 ham sandwiches, 2 jelly's and 2 beers (Kaitlyn's name for soft drink - if you were wondering)

During sandwich 2, I heard a vehicle and went outside to investigate. It was the ranger. I think he was both shocked and surprised to see me down there with a camper. We chatted a bit and I gave him the grand tour of the xtrk. He was impressed. I then told him about geocaching and that there was one at this campground. So out with the handheld and we gave him a lesson. Again he was impressed. So much so, he didn't bother asking me for camp fee's. I told him we would be gone by lunch on Thursday (if I could haul the ulti back up the hill)

It was starting to warm up by now, so instead of setting up camp fully, I took K for a walk. The river had dropped lots since Sunday, so we decided to go across for an explore on the other side. There was a lot of what I think was an algae going over the causeway. So much, I didn't even entertain the idea of swimming. In fact, you can see the circular shaped floaties in the lower left of this pic. There was lots of it.

The other side of the river was the Westrail access road. I have travelled this road a few times before in my days of the inwater rescue team for the Avon Descent. It was bringing back some memories....and also had me wondering.....I'm thinking that Emu Falls (an Avon Descent day 2 highlight) wasn't that far away.

So we walked up and sat on the side of the cutting, waiting to see a train...After 1/2 hour, no train, so we headed back to camp as we didn't bring water with us. By now it was later afternoon and just the right time to go for a hike. Back over the causeway and waiting by the mainline. It didn't take long for a freight train to come belting through the cutting

After the excitement of the train went through, I coaxed K into going for a walk. I had to see if what I could see on my sat maps on ozi was Emu Falls. And about a kilometer, I was rewarded. It sure was Emu. I Told K of my stories of being in the Avon inwater rescue for a few years, well before she was on the scene. I was stoked to see the place again.

You could only imagine what it is like piloting a 10HP fiberglass bathtub or padling a kayak or ski through this

So with that done, it was time to return to camp to set-up and get ready for dinner. A peaceful and uneventful night followed. K went to bed (finally) and I retired to the red.

Morning came and so did the coffee with bacon and eggs...Yum. The flies were pretty ordinary this morning due to the lack of heat. A leisurely pack up and we were ready to see how I would go haulin the Ulti up the hill.

Once the terrain got a bit steeper and rougher, I went into low range. A few spots were a bit hair raising as all 4 wheels were losing traction trying to haul the 1T slug on the back up the steep and eroded incline. I wouldn't even consider doing this with a camper if its wet. Sucessfully negotiating the ruts with the Ulti still on its wheels we neared the top. And bugger me, the gate was shut....Oh crap, what to do now? There is no way I could reverse down that hill. So I stopped and engaged the handbrake  to see if it would hold. a walk to the gate revealed it was only pushed closed, not locked. So I opened the gate and made my way to the top of the hill.

Once through the gate on level ground, I stopped, attached the stone stomper and pushed the gate closed......I firmly believe in the concept that you leave a gate how you found it. Ask any cocky about this principle!

On the way out, I decided to check out the Moondyne's cage cache. I tried to find it on Sunday, but it was too bloody hot and I was sick of all the vegetation sticking to the sweat on my neck and back. And I'm glad I did. Cause I found it second time around and scored a nice travel bug to reposition (probably over xmas when I go down to Nannup). Then a few K's later, I stopped at another cache. This time I scored a nice geocoin to move on.

From there it was a leisurely cruise home, and a quick wash down of the camper and tug. In a couple of day's I'll head South to Nannup. With luck, I'll get a couple of days both before and after xmas to camp in the ulti before heading back to work on new years eve.

EDIT: 30th December...... A week after this trip I discovered a tick buried in K's shoulder on xmas eve. So off to the local for its removal. Then on boxing day, I discovered I was the host for 3 ticks. One in a place very close for comfort. So if your heading Avon NP way, be wary and take the necessary precautions. Luckily, it appears as if there has been no side effects of harbouring the parasites.

Tuesday, 18 December 2012

The Buccaneer Archipelago


Its been a long time coming, but I thought I had better blog this trip of a lifetime from 2006.

17 friends + 1 unborn, 5 boats and 8 days exploring the Kimberley Coast .

 30 Min slide show of trip:

Tuesday, 20 November 2012

Wellington Dam

The culmination of 4 days off and some new canvas for the ulti meant I was going away. Wanted somewhere relatively close to home.

Arriving at the camp site, I'm shocked its so small. All the choice spots were taken by the grey nomads in their vans...figures....

So I decide to check out a spot nearby. This other place is chock-a-block, so after a bit of swearing and thinking of alternative sites, I decide to go back to the original site.

I decided we will stay here, not my idea of an ideal location, but it has the room for me to spread out my new canvas.

In the end, it ended up being not too bad at all, the grey nomads were pretty good.

As I was erecting the canvas, the other two buggered off down the dam to leave me to it. It was pretty warm. Especially being out in the sun trying to work out where all these pieces of new canvas go????

The custom front awning I had made was a pearler.....It was such a nice place to sit in the shade with the cooling breeze blowing. The main awning was a bit hot as the wind was coming from the front annex side of the Ulti.

The little un had been sick and missed Mon/Tue at school due to vomiting. Then she came good, so the weekend was a goer. Unfortunately whilst we were all asleep at 1030pm, she decided to christen the ulti big*t...

Luckily most of it was in her pillow, but the ulti copped some all the same. Some how she missed her sleeping bag, so that was a bonus.

After emergency clean ups and some make shift pillow making, we all slept peacefully for the rest of the night. The little un had a tub to take to bed, just in case.

Sunday came around, so I decided to christen my hillbilly frypan I've had for over a year now. What better way to first fire it up than with bacon and eggs for breky.....

Later that afternoon, we decided to go for a bit of an explore. Came across a nice secluded campground. Well it would have been nice if the people who were marroning out of season didn't leave their flyblown scraps in a shopping bag out in the open. (they were nice sized marron too going by the festering shells) Also the toilet was full and neatly packed with the rubbish of previous camping trips. I mean really, If you can carry it in full, why cant you carry it out empty....Grrrrrr
I happened across DEC on the way out and made mention of the poor state of the campground.

The water was crystal clear and relatively deep. I did think about going for a dip at one stage.

Back at camp and we venture off down the dam for a look

what better things do kids have to do but make mud pies

and surf burnt out floating logs

while the rest of us just sit back thinking "how's the serenity"  lol

Some wildlife came in for a better look in the afternoon. Must have been checking out the ulti

Then the 28's came in for a feed. Taken right out of the hand.

but it was now time for more serious aspects of the evening:

firstly, gathering the wood

Then waiting for the coals to build

Monday came and we leisurely packed up. Did a couple of caches on the way out. Had a slight problem with the last. I thought it was time for the girl to step up to the mark and recover the cache and its contents (after I located it that is)

All was well and she was checking out the treasure's. Until....a blood curdling scream was let out. Checking the contents of the cache revealed a small scorpion about an inch long. Whilst mum provided the first aid back at the car, I emptied the cache of scorpion's and made my way back. She had a cold beer on her arm now as the venom was rising from the thumb where she was stung and her arm was swollen and throbbing with pain. As she was in agony, I made a dash for collie hospital to get some "better" pain relief than I had on board. They gave her something to drink and sent us on our way. As it was getting a bit late now, we stopped in town for lunch. Then 10min's after we left, she was zonked for most the trip home. When she woke, you wouldn't know what had happened.

So all in all, a good result and a great weekend, even if marred by some of life's little hiccups.

The Ultimate Caver Trailer

Well after the 6 week jaunt in the caver trailer, I decided I needed a different beast for those long trip, one night stop types of camps. I just sold my boat due to lack of use and the money was burning a hole in my pocket. As luck would have it, I found an 18 month old Ulti for sale locally. I went and had a look at it, the price seemed right, so another chapter begins........

Well, August 2012 and the deal is done.

First pics:

So I ended up swapping a keeled boat for a wheeled boat!

Lots of mods to do. First up, cutting a hole in the fiberglass to fit the evakool Arrgh!


Well maybe I'll do the distribution system first......

2 x 100 agm's, inline monitor, redarc bcdc1240 charger, 6 pot fuse box for distribution and an anderson for charging/solar.

I had a slight hiccup with the battery install. I kept all the oem stuff so it can be set up as original if ever needed. As such I had to remove a cable lug. A good plan was to bang a small flat bladed screwdriver in there to force open the crimp. Some light taps did jack. A heavy lunge and the cable lug went sideways and the screwdriver buried into my finger. As you could imagine, I shook my hand in agony, only to have my face, shirt and trailer sprayed with blood. The paving looked like the texas chain saw massacre had just taken place.

A few days later when I washed my hands, my bush stitches (bandaid) slipped off. Only then did I notice both an entry and an exit wound, opposed width wise on my finger. Bloody hell, I punched the driver all the way through.....

So lucky I still have full movement and feeling in the finger.

Let my bad judgement be a lesson for those that like to tinker.

And the ironic part of that....10 lugs cost me $7.00.

So for the sake of 70 cents, I very nearly suffered permanent injury.

What a tight arse I am sometimes


So after the bats were complete, I got even busier

Got some foam (that's bloody exe) as I decided to make my own bed infill. Some material from spotlight and a few hours on the sewing machine and all should be good.

Then I got busy performing surgery and fitting the fridge.

Just need to box in the compressor and I should be all set for the inaugural shakedown trip in a couple of weeks.


crap pic (had no control over the sun casting user shadows) but the hole is filled now. Sika'd in place, will screw and seal the outside at some stage.

Also had to cut the shield on my 9kg lpg to fit the locker box. I must say, cutting a partially filled 9kg...not very wise


Got the stomper fitted today. Almost ready for the maiden voyage


And then, the Ulti's cherry was popped


I thought I needed some light in the boot.

500mm of 5050 led strip, stuck to 12mm ali flat bar, clear heat shrink over the top of all that. Put an inline switch at the end of the strip  click here

The strip is sika'd to the boot roof, out of harms way. I pulled the cable through the existing split loom tubing from the battery box and routed it out of harms way. The photo doesn't do it justice. It lights all corners of the boot very well :)

Thinking I may just do the same for my internal cupboards


I placed an order for the full annex wall kit, so I can totally enclose the area under the main awning. Great for either insect protection or to create a wet weather area. Also a custom front awning, will come out the drawbar side about 2 meters and supported with poles and ropes. Will provide shade on that side of the camper and wet weather protection should I need to access the boot area. Not a cheap exercise


New canvas arrived on Thursday, just in time for a weekend jaunt.

Very happy. The custom front awning is just superb too.


End of blog November 2012. Will add to the blog as more mods continue